IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Memorial Day

The genesis of this post started many years ago, and I tend to edit and revise it each year.  Maybe one day it will do justice to the day and those I remember on Memorial Day. 

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Foster Powers USN, KIA 1945

Foster Powers USN, KIA 1945

To the God in Man displayed — Where’er we see that Birth, Be love and understanding paid As never yet on earth!

To the Spirit that moves in Man,
On Whom all worlds depend,
Be Glory since our world began
And service to the end!

Final stanzas, The Choice, Rudyard Kipling

Let me start with the end, instead of the beginning.  I am not asking that we make Memorial Day somber and solemn, a thing without levity or fun.  I know none who have served who would want that, particularly those who did not come home.  We should enjoy the day and the weekend in their honor, so that they and the reason for this day are not forgotten.

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Art Sale For Medical

I’ve recently had some unexpected medical expenses, and am reluctantly putting original art I own up for sale to help cover the costs.

The first is by noted space artist (and friend of LibertyCon) Mark Maxwell, The Venus Experiment — originally done for Asimov’s. This is the original painting, in museum-mount frame and matting. Framed size is app. 32”x25”. I’m asking $500 plus shipping, but all offers considered. Mark is known for his extremely realistic airbrush art in both science and science fiction. As an aside, when he did the Spacelab J artwork for NASA, his attention to detail required getting him photos of the planned orbiter so he could get the tile pattern right (each orbiter had a different pattern).

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The second is a sketch by the late, great, Frank Kelly Freas of a reclining nude female. Framed size is app. 16.75″ x 12″. It was purchased directly from Kelly, and the museum mount matting is personalized and signed by him. Asking $500 plus shipping, but all offers considered.

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The third is a sketch by the late Bryan Gibson of a sniper in a window. Framed size is app. 14”x9”. It was purchased directly from Bryan, and the museum mount matting is personalized and signed by him. Asking $250 plus shipping, but all offers considered.

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The fourth piece is by myself, and was done in response to a modern art exhibit I attended many years ago, entitled “A Shot In The Dark.” It is oil on acrylic via a 20-guage shotgun, with the shot removed from the shell and replaced with oil paint. It us unframed, and the approximate size is 24”x36”. Asking $500 plus shipping, but all offers considered.

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It Was The Worst Of Times…

2015:  It was the worst of times, and it was the best of times.

It was far from the worst year of my life, but it was not a fun year.  It was the year I started rebuilding my life.

2015 taught me many lessons.  It taught me that I do have the capacity for love, and that I do have the courage to put myself out there and handle the joys and the heartbreak that entails.  It was a year of loss, but reminded me that I am richer for having known those who chose to leave my life, and especially for knowing those who left this world last year.

2015 was a year where I cut some baggage and drama from my life.  It was a year I let some chose to leave, and while it was painful, I am the better for it.  It is good to have anchors for the storms of life, but having anchors who just want to drag you down into the depths with them are things to be cut.  It was and is a reminder that you can’t save anyone, if you can’t and won’t save yourself.

It was a year that saw me move from being homeless to having a home, or at least a room in a home.  My landlord is a good person, and has encouraged me to grow, and to be a bit more social in life.  He, and his house, are a bit unconventional, and I’ve loved that.  Having a place where I’m accepted as I am, and encouraged and challenged is an amazingly wonderful thing.

2015 was the year I decided to make some moves, from some part-time employment to changes in my writing and photography.  Part of that is a return to some of my roots (photography), and to finally taking the long-encouraged plunge into fiction.  It’s not just that I am more than a bit burnt-out on PR and marketing, but was stagnant — not an easy admission to realize or make.  My initial forays into fiction have been well received, and I have plans to work to take that much, much further in 2016.

2015 was the year that reminded me that family is not just blood, but the friends we make — including some friends I never knew I had.  This process started a couple of years ago, and I realized in 2015 just how rich I was for those people.  What I am doing now would not have been possible without them.  2014 ended on a very low note for me, one that scared me as I had hit a point where I truly did not care if I lived or died.  2015 saw me start back up from that point.

It was a year where I met some very special people, including a very special lady.  It taught me that I may actually be able to love and cherish, and while the plans to spend the rest of my life with someone did not work out, I was shown that such was and is possible.  I am also glad to have that lady as a friend as I move forward into 2016.

2015 ended with me physically, mentally, and emotionally tired — and that is a good thing.  Hard work never killed anyone, and is good for body and soul.  That is far more than mere physical labor.

2016 starts with new opportunities at the part-time job, and I love the challenge and opportunity.  It starts with new opportunities for the writing and photography I love.  It starts with a lot of thought and reflection done in 2015 about what I truly want in life, and some ideas on how to make those things happen.

2016 will, with a lot of hard work, be much better than 2015.  That’s true of any year, but this year starts with some good foundations in place.  It may not be a comfortable year, but making changes, improving ourselves and our lot in life is never comfortable.  It is, however, the only way to grow and improve.

2016 will see loss, that is a given.  Some will die, and some will chose to leave my life.  Some will not like the choices I make, or that I will chose to embrace parts of my life of which they disapprove.  That is their choice, and I will wish them well.  I will mourn those who die, and will work to remember them with a smile and thanks for being a part of my life.

2016 will be a year of hard decisions.  Every year is.  For some decision points, there may be no good options for the immediate — the key is to make the best decision possible not just for the immediate, but for the long-term.  One good thing about starting is that we can chose to keep that which is good and best, and let go of the parts that hold us back.  New lives do not have to be a mirror of the old.

To the worst of 2015, I say good riddance.  And thanks for helping me think and grow.

To the best of 2015, I say thank you, and for making it possible for me to be in a place where I can improve and grow.

May 2016 be a good year for us all.

Black Friday Book Sale

Since it seems to be the thing to do, I am running a sale on all my works on Kindle starting this Friday.  For a limited time, the three books in my “A Different View” photography series (A Different View: Travels to Al Qa’im and Beyond , A Different View: Travels with Team Easy, Iraq 2007 , and A Different View: DJ, Doura, and Arab Jabour) which showcases day-to-day life of the troops in Iraq will be available for just $0.99 cents.  My short story “Flight of the Fantasy ” will also be available for just $0.99 cents, and my latest short story “Slaughterhouse ” will be available for free.  You don’t have to have a Kindle to read them, you can download a free app for your computer or smart phone.  If you have read, or do read them, please do leave an honest review of them.

Amazon Smile: For The Holidays and All Year

AmazonSmile

Amazon has grown to become a major part of our lives, to the tune of more than $88 billion in revenue in 2014.  Think about that number a minute, and then think about the Amazon Smiles program.  This is a program from Amazon that, if you enter Amazon through an Amazon Smile account link, a small percentage of your purchase will go to that charity.  Yes, it is a small percentage, but look at that total revenue and think what half a percent of that would be.

Right now, small charities — and I suspect military charities even more so — are struggling for donations.  Shopping Amazon via an Amazon Smile link costs you nothing, but it can provide much needed funds to the charity you find worthy.  The more who use it, and especially if you use it all year, the more that charity will get.

While I hope you will consider using the Mission: VALOR Amazon Smile link, I ask you to pick the charity of your choice and use that link now, and all year long.  It’s a small way to make a difference, and a potentially large difference at that without you having to fork out a dime.

New Short Story: Slaughterhouse

I’ve got a new military SF short story up on Kindle. Slaughterhouse begins exploring what happens when you have to fight an alien race that can be functionally invisible.  It is a steal at $0.99.

On the desert planet Uruk, a menace has emerged in the form of a reptiliod race that can be functionably invisible at need. Who are they? What are they? How do they do it? These questions are important, but more important to those sent to deal with them is how do you fight an enemy who is invisible until they attack? John Thornton has been sent to collect samples, or better yet a live prisoner, from a race that doesn’t take prisoners or leave them. Captain Winter is working to improve life for the humans in his area of operations. Their missions converge at a local meat processing plant, and the battle has just begun. A short story for your entertainment.

Let me know what you think.

9-11

Men of Harlech stop your dreaming, Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?

I remember this day.

It started like any other day, as I got in early to work at NASA.  Part of my morning duties included checking various newsfeeds and related things, and when the first report of a plane hitting the World Trade Center, I remember wondering if it was a small plane and how such could have happened.  Then came other reports, including an early one of an explosion at the Pentagon, and it was then I knew nothing was an accident, and I made the calls duty required.

I remember the shock that went through our office, and the building, and my efforts to get any information possible.  I remember the much needed laugh when I confirmed that the President was airborne, and Air Force One was in National Emergency Airborne Command Post mode (that’s not just limited to the E-4s).  My public shorthand called out to my manager that the President was KNEECAPed caused someone who shall remain nameless to think that an attacker had hit the President in the kneecap with a baseball bat…

I remember watching the news on televisions in various conference rooms, and the horror that ran through all when it was realized that it was not debris falling and jumping from the upper floors.  Of learning more about the Pentagon, of tales of planes down elsewhere, and the command to land all planes now.  Of wondering and worrying about people I knew at both locations.

I remember being ordered to evacuate, and driving home still in shock, angry, sad, and more.  We knew we had been hurt, and that far too many were dead; but, we still didn’t know the true toll.  Our thoughts had turned towards survivors, and I knew that around the country Nightingales were prepping to fly to New York to take survivors to selected burn and trauma centers around the country.  Would to God they had been needed.

I remember the dust still caking the streets and buildings of lower Manhattan, and the smell of baked lime (chemical, not the fruit) and burnt sweet pork.  Of being embarrassed by having an NYPD lieutenant drive me around to a day full of meetings.  Of learning how he had barely survived both collapses, as he ran towards the trouble to help.  Of being taken to Ground Zero, and watching the boots slowly melt off the workers as they searched their search.  Of a young NYPD officer who made sure I saw the Statue of Liberty “while it’s still here” even as we checked out a report of a possible body in the river.

Today, I remember all that and more.  Today, I remember Rick Rescorla, who’s preparations, quick thinking, and defiance of official orders allowed him to save 2,700 lives.  I remember that he, along with members of the NYFD, died going back in and up, to try to save more.

Today, I remember the dead.  Please remember and honor the 2,977 killed (no, not including the terrorists in that number, fuck them), and the more than 6,000 injured.

As for me:

I have not forgotten

I will not forget

I do not forgive

The war began before 9-11.  It is not over.  It has just barely begun.

Chattanooga

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My early thoughts are up at Blackfive, and I ask you to keep the families and friends of the fallen in your thoughts and prayers, and may the light shine down on them; my thanks to the First Responders, who kept this from being so much worse; and, my thoughts and prayers to the survivors who now have to deal with this.

My thanks to Gunny Popaditch for the image.

Pipes, Cigars, and More – Oh My!

A few weeks ago, I won a pipe tobacco blending contest that was part of a larger pipe event held at the Pipe Puffer Smoke Shop in Indianapolis/Greenwood (County Line Road across from Greenwood Mall).  My winning blend was Laughing Wolf #2 blend, which is English with a bit of a twist.  One of the prizes is that this blend can be ordered/bought at the Pipe Puffer.  They do phone orders (317-881-2957) and ship nationwide for a flat rate.  If you like pipe, you might also enjoy my “Highland Wake-Up” blend that has whiskey and two types of coffee (it’s my current favorite morning smoke).  No, I don’t make anything off this, just enjoying exploring and sharing.

There will be a Perdomo cigar event at the Pipe Puffer from 4-8 on 29 July. It will feature Perdomo’s Special Craft series, hand crafted for beer enthusiasts. Prices in the $7.99-$9.99 range. Not saying there might be some food and drink provided as well, but… Come on down!